UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Once the game goes to a shootout, the New Jersey Devils are already a beaten team.
They have been pushed past overtime 10 times this season, and have lost every one of the tiebreakers. The latest, a 2-1 defeat to the also-ran New York Islanders on Saturday night, pushed the Devils closer to missing the playoffs.
"Even if we were just .500 on those, we'd have an extra four or five points and we wouldn't be in this situation," said forward Patrik Elias, whose miss in the second round ended the game.
Not only aren't the Devils coming out on top, they are having trouble scoring. Only once in 30 shootout tries this season have they managed a goal. In seven of the 10 shootouts, they were behind 1-0 before their first attempt.
That was the case again Saturday when Frans Nielsen started with a goal, and Brock Nelson added one in the second round.
New Jersey has lost 14 consecutive shootouts, including two in the past two games.
"We're at the point we can pretty much try everything because what we're doing is not working," forward Damien Brunner said. "Maybe we have to start throwing some jokes around on the bench. It can't get any worse."
Nielsen scored in the second period, when a puck struck Elias in the pants and caromed in to give the Islanders a brief 1-0 lead.
Cory Schneider played well otherwise and made 19 saves, but the Devils are five points below the wild-card cutoff with eight games left and will have to jump over several teams.
"We had a chance to actually get ourselves back in the race," he said of the Devils, 2-4-2 in their past eight. "We got a point, but if we had gotten two extra points the past two we'd really be making noise.
"I don't know if it's in our heads or what. There is no real point in elaborating. It's just not good enough."
The Islanders are 5-2-1 in the last eight games, relishing the role of late-season spoilers.
"It was a fun game to play," Nielsen said. "We're a young team and we're working hard."
In this shootout, New York's Anders Nilsson turned aside Adam Henrique, who scored in regulation, and then Elias to win it. Nilsson made 23 traditional saves.
New Jersey closed the gap in shots during the second and erased its deficit on Henrique's career-high 25th goal with 9:40 left. Henrique has a goal in back-to-back games following a seven-game drought.